Why the Matrix Resurrections is the reboot we need
The Matrix Ressurections was a righteous remake
by Nicolò Grasso
The 2010s saw a massive resurgence in sequels, reboots, and remakes of virtually every popular series of the 20th century. Michael Myers came back to slash his way through Haddonfield in 2018’s Halloween, audiences went back to Isla Nublar and a galaxy far, far away in 2015 with both Jurassic World and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and everything from Ghostbusters and Terminator to The Mummy and Hellboy came back to the silver screen.
While most of these attempts at giving new life to certain franchises has proven to be very lucrative for studios, most of the narratives took an easy, crowd-pleasing approach with their storytelling: aging actors like Harrison Ford, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger returned to give a sense of continuity to their respective series, with screenplays featuring plenty of callbacks and references purposefully inserted to capitalize on the shared nostalgia of new and old fans. Barely any of these productions have attempted to comment on this obsession with going back to the well of what was once popular. That is, before The Matrix Resurrections came out.
The original Matrix was a true game-changer for sci-fi cinema and blockbusters as a whole, an iconic film that blended martial arts and gravity-defying action with deep philosophical musings on the blurred lines between “humans versus machines” and “free will versus fate”. Sequels were inevitable and their creators (Lana and Lilly Wachowski) doubled down on spectacle and themes, with The Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions bringing box-office success, but also a mixed reception. The most frequent criticism thrown at them was the convoluted nature of its philosophy, where bombastic set-pieces were preceded by prolonged dialogue scenes that were anything but subtle.
The Wachowskis tried to separate themselves from the franchise, delving deeper into creating fantastical worlds with Speed Racer, Cloud Atlas, Jupiter Ascending, and Netflix’s Sense8. Warner Brothers was eyeing a way to bring back The Matrix for quite a few years, but the duo of filmmakers wanted to pursue original ideas. However, following the quick passing of their parents and some friends, Lana Wachowski decided to dive back into the universe that made her and her sister world-famous, thus writing and directing The Matrix Resurrections.
Bringing back the characters of Neo and Trinity after 18 years was deeply cathartic for Lana, who was now able to give them the happy ending they deserved. Plenty of blockbusters coming out today show little to no interest in mature romantic relationships, so it is quite refreshing to see Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss share great chemistry once again. The love between their characters was one of the driving forces of the original trilogy, and the earnest emotions between them are needed at a time of great loss.
The Matrix Resurrections is not only a love story but also a critique of modern studio filmmaking. In an era where every sequence is pre-visualized months in advance, the use of natural lighting, handheld camerawork, and practical effects elevate this film to a level that makes it look very different from its predecessors and contemporary action films. The first part of the movie pokes fun at the fixation of studios and audiences alike in wanting to bring back The Matrix, misunderstanding what made it successful and why it was created in the first place. Lana Wachowski purposefully inserts references to the original trilogy only to subvert expectations: she is reappropriating her baby, taking it back from all those who misunderstood its themes of identity and love. It is no surprise that such a drastic approach was received with mixed results by moviegoers worldwide. Ironic that Spider-Man: No Way Home (a film all about bringing back familiar faces for the sole purpose of nostalgia) came out just a week before The Matrix Resurrections, which criticizes everything that Marvel movie stands for, and was buried by its success. Lana Wachowski gave audiences what they needed, but not what they wanted to hear: a wake-up call to want something new from studio filmmaking, to not be afraid of thinking out of the box, while also giving a comforting message to seek true love in our lives and never give up. The Matrix Resurrections is the reboot we all needed after a creatively bankrupt decade, and it might take another 10 years before more viewers realize that.